Linda Brooks Davis
When I begin a new book, I get to know the characters by using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment to learn what makes them tick. It’s fun to meet strangers who’re friends-in-the-making. Come along and meet three characters from A Rock Creek Christmas Novella Collection:
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1) First up, Ella McFarland Evans:
“Merry Christmas 1908! Come into this house, friends. Pull up a chair. Pour yourself a cup of hot cider. And let’s visit awhile. I’m tickled to death to meet you.
“I’m a blonde, curly-haired Oklahoma girl, born and reared. I’m what folks describe as ‘no bigger than a grasshopper’ but I’m a strong-minded farmer’s daughter, teacher, suffragist, wife, and now mother to six—yes, six—daughters. My handsome husband Andrew and I adopted the eldest five two years ago. Orphaned sisters, four of them are as blonde as newborn chicks and the youngest as dark-haired as sable. They’re named for the beauty in their first mother’s garden—Amaryllis, Blossom, Camellia, Dahlia, and Ebony. Julia Jane, our sixth daughter with hair as dark a brown as black walnut shells, was born to us only months after taking the other five to our hearts. Now they’re my life—along with Andrew, of course—no more so than at Christmas.
“Speaking of which, I’m worn to a frazzle this fourth day before Christmas 1908. I’ve a long list of chores to complete, and Andrew’s doing his best to convince me he and the girls would rather have time with me than all the delights I’ve planned. But I’m hard-headed as a mule, so it remains to be seen if I’ll listen. Ya’ll, stay around and see what’s coming up. I can guarantee this will be a Christmas to remember.”
2) “Now, please meet one of my favorite characters, Lily Sloat.”
“Hi, everyone. I’m Lily. I call the other side of Rock Creek—a forgotten horseshoe-bend in the stream that no one dares invade—my former abode, not my home. You see, when Ella found me in 1905, I was a bedraggled, copper-haired girl who worked the fields alongside my mother Ruby. We sharecropped in my no-good pa Walter’s place and took his abuse at quitting time.
“When Pa beat me to the edge of death for taking up for Ma, Ella took me in. She cleaned me up, dressed me in fine clothes, and taught me to read. When she and Andrew married, I went to live with her best friend and neighbor, beautiful, auburn-haired Adelaide Fitzgerald, a former opera star in Italy. Addie taught me how to stand and walk and speak as if I amount to something. She saw to my schooling and enrolled me in college. Addie has opened a world I could only have dreamed about on the other side of the creek.
“Ella’s brother Cade claims my eyes are as green as the foxfire’s light and my freckles are where angels kissed me, but I know better. I’m just Lily. I turned eighteen last August, and the society girls Addie invited to my party didn’t even know my name. But Ma loves me beyond measuring, no matter where Walter has dragged her. Something tells me this Yuletide 1910 will serve up a Christmas measure of Ma’s kind of love.”
3) “Finally, friends, I’m honored to introduce you to the Angel of the Opera, Adelaide Fitzgerald.”
“How delightful to meet you, new friends. I’m Addie. I was born, orphaned, and reared at Broadview, my ancestral estate in Oklahoma. My mother died birthing me, and my father followed her when I was a small child. Thankfully, he left me more than an inheritance; he left me in the care of housekeeper-turned-mother, Maggie. She made Broadview so much more than a beautiful estate; she made it home in the truest sense.
“Having been blessed with the gift of music, I concentrated on my vocal performance and landed leading roles on Italy’s opera stage. But an unexpected matter of the heart interrupted my career plans, and I returned home in time for Ella’s wedding the last day of 1905.
“I met Lily that day, took her into Broadview, and, like Ella and me, we’ve become like sisters. I wouldn’t trade these seven years with Lily for anything in the world. She has enriched my life far more than I ever could hers.
“Now it’s Christmas 1912. Broadview’s attired for the holiday with garland and berries, candles and angels, and a dazzling two-story tree. Everyone I know has left to celebrate with other friends and family—except two of Ella’s girls, Blossom and Camellia. They’ve foregone their family’s holiday in Denver, choosing instead to celebrate Christmas with their Auntie Addie.
“I simply must make this their most wonderful Christmas ever. Have I thought of everything? Have I done enough? What would make the grandest topper of all?
Something tells me we’re about to embark on a Christmas tale that’s fit for them and every other little woman in the world.”
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There you have it, friends, the main trio in the cast of characters you’ll meet in A Rock Creek Christmas Novella Collection. I pray these women will enrich your anticipation of Christmas and that in 2020, you’ll enjoy A Christmas to Remember, A Christmas Measure of Love, and A Christmas Tale for Little Women.
Marguerite Martin Gray
Wait for it…
It’s here. Well, almost! I’m so excited about the release of Wait for Me on February 9, 2021. Oh, how I’m ready to hold this novel, Book Five in the Revolutionary Faith Series. As I wrote the final installment of this family saga, I let my tears flow as I said goodbye to my characters. Their lives thread with mine after years of research and writing, editing and rewriting.
I don’t know if goodbye is the right words. My mind wraps around my beloved family. I wonder about them and create the lives of the children as adults and parents. That is one awesome thing about novels, the characters can live on and on. For example, Darcy and Elizabeth, Scarlett and Rhett, Kate and Petruchio. So, I will let Louis and Elizabeth evolve in my imagination.
Pre-order of Wait for Me…
You can find out more about the book, the fun bonus short story, and how to pre-order the eBook of Wait for Me from Celebrate Lit Publishing here.
Anne with PC
The other week I finally had enough space in my calendar to binge watch the Anne with an E series. As a major Anne fan since last century (I love being able to say that!), with requisite hair color and appropriate middle name, who has read all the books many times, can quote the 1985 movie nearly word perfectly, AND as someone who has been so fortunate to visit Prince Edward Island (dragging my long suffering husband along in the process), I was looking forward to this version, even though I’d heard mixed reviews.
Let’s just say…those mixed reviews were given for a reason. Yes, the scenery, the clothing, the set design were all beautiful. And it was wonderful to see places I’d actually seen in real life.
But…in giving 27 episodes to a book, the team behind the production obviously thought they needed to pad out the series with new storylines, and in doing so thought it time to introduce Anne to a new generation via contemporary issues. This politically correct ‘woke’ version sees (spoilers alert): Gilbert befriending a Trinidadian man whom he later calls ‘brother’ as they live on the farm, Anne and Matthew (who for some reason didn’t die) off rescuing native North Americans when Anne’s friend Ka’kwet is stolen away by the government, critical scenes such as The Lady of Shalott boating disaster cut, suppression of children’s right to be heard via a printing press scandal, Aunt Josephine being held up as some kind of LGBT hero, on and on it goes.
Anne wasn’t the ethereal, winsome, fairy-believing sensitive dreamer we see in the books (or in Megan Follows 1985 TV mini-series portrayal). Oh no. Instead, she’s a redrawn as a feminist, passionate-about-every-cause gal to the extent she’s more often spittin’ chips and rushing off to solve the problems of the world, rather than demonstrating the sympathetic character so many readers can identify with in the novels. As for Gilbert – seriously? Falling in love with someone OTHER than Anne to the point of considering marriage, when we all know Anne is his One True Love (and are considering why someone who looks SO young could possibly be considered as marriage material. By anyone.) – hello?
Seriously, why did anyone think it necessary to mess with the perfection found in the pages of LM Montgomery’s works?
It’s this ‘rewriting’ of historical novels that concerns me. We saw a bit of Feminist Jo in Little Women (which is perhaps a little more believable, given Louisa May Alcott’s family background). And yes, I was surprised to learn from the new Anne series that there really was a place in Charlottetown called The Bog, which was the place for the poor and blacks in this time period (but is never mentioned in LM Montgomery’s books). So, too, the Indian tribe mentioned did exist in the Maritime provinces in this time, and yes, they were subjected to horrors in forced assimilation.
But it’s this new whitewashing of historical novels, this ‘pick a current cause and insert it into classic fiction’ that I find troubling. How long will it be before we see Pride & Politically Correct, where Mr. Darcy is championing votes for women whilst simultaneously burning down slave owners houses? Will we soon see Romeo and Juliet: PC Lives Again, where they don’t die, but instead form a counselling service which brings their two families together, they all forgive, hold hands, sing kumbaya, and everyone lives to a ripe old age of one hundred?
Don’t get me wrong. I think many of these issues are worth talking about. But inserting them into historical fiction to try and attract more readers / viewers?
No, thank you.
If you, like me, have loved LM Montgomery’s books, go watch the 1985 version again (maybe not the sequels), or the Road to Avonlea series. Don’t taint your Anne experience with this.
Trust an Anne fan from last century.
Hey, y’all. I’m Christian author, Caryl McAdoo, praying my story gives God glory! Although I do write other genres, historical romance family saga is my favorite!
While doing research for my Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga, I ran across a very interesting incident that some say was a catalyst to the start of the Civil War, and it happened right there in Dallas, Texas where I lived until age twelve. That’s when we moved to Irving, one of the suburb cities to the west, between Big D and Fort Worth.
I set GONE TO TEXAS, book one in the series, in 1840 around the area that would become Irving. It took me five books in to get to 1860, just before the Civil War began so that I could use the Dallas incident called Texas Troubles . . . the inspiration for the title of book five that debuted on September 1st!
It was in one of those extra hot summers where the temperatures burned over a hundred degrees for days on end. I lived through a summer like that in 1980, but back in 1860 they had no air conditioning. Poor people.
TEXAS TROUBLES opens with two young friends about to go into a barn dance.
While the heroine has never said it aloud, her best friend has told anyone who would listen that she loves Aaron Van Zandt, but rumor has it that the dashing young man has taken part in the vigilante justice over downtown Dallas burning almost to the ground. Those blamed for setting the fire—and also in downtowns of Denton and Pilot Point on the same blazing day only hours apart—were slaves.
On that fateful July 8th, the fire started in Wallace Peak’s drugstore in Dallas. All the citizens and store owners could do was run outside and watch. The wooden buildings were so dry, and the hot winds blew the embers from one building to the next. Before it could be contained, half the business district smoldered, burned to the ground.
Besides Texas Troubles, the incident has also been called the Slave Insurrection Panic of 1860 and the Secession of the Lower South. Four short days later an overzealous young editor at the Dallas Herald sent the news to Austin, Bonham, and Houston newspapers, spreading unverified, fake news.
He reported that abolitionist preachers who’d been previously whipped and run out of town had recruited and organized the blacks against the whites, planning a widespread plot to devastate North Texas with fire and assassinations. He also sent the news to the head of the Democratic Party.
July 23rd, in the sooty ashes of the County Courthouse, a vigilante group met. One said they should hang all the slaves in the county, but the voice of reason knocked that idea down because of the great loss of property that would hit the citizens. They settled on three black men, one a preacher, and promptly hung them.
Later it was decided that the fire started through spontaneous combustion of the new phosphorous match sticks kept at the drugstore and mercantile in Denton and trading post in the hamlet of Pilot Point. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
One of the two heroes in TEXAS TROUBLES had attended that vigilante meeting and the hangings. The community he grew up in would never approve, so he packs up and moves after accepting a position as a cotton dealer. It’ll get him far away from his judgmental family and friends. Later, he joins the Confederacy efforts.
His best friend Richard Worley is more like a brother; they’d grown up with one another since birth. He along with most of the conservative community join up to serve the Union Army, putting the almost-brothers on opposite sides of the War Between The States. I purposely skirted the horrors of it war. Mostly, it’s told through letters back and forth from the men and the women who love them. Of course, they never wrote the whole truth in their letters.
I think anyone who loves history will enjoy this story focused on those left behind as beloved husbands and sons leave with promises of coming home—though they have no way of keeping them.
I’ve been so blessed in my life not to have been affected by war. My husband was in the navy reserves at eighteen, but got a honorable dependency discharge when we got married in June and I got pregnant in September (also at eighteen). He would have gone to Vietnam. But God . . .
BACK COVER COPY: Brothers are for conflict; and he who finds a wife has found a good thing.
Through the first battle to the end of the Civil war, partners Aaron Van Zandt and Rich Worley fought on opposite sides. The women who loved them lived in prayer and learned to trust God even more to stay sane. While their fellows fought each other, best friends Josie Jo Worley and Cass Andrews battle jealousy, worry, and regret. Experience the war as one who’s left behind. See how they cope. Readers aren’t able to stop turning the pages.
To read an excerpt, click here!
GAME: And for those of you who love word games, check this one out! So much fun! https://thewordsearch.com/puzzle/1388058/